When you do something for the first time—like a mud run—you’re not exactly sure what to expect, what to bring, how to dress. So you do your best, muddle through it (Muddle? Get it? Ha!) and come out on the other side proud of yourself, but knowing more than when you went in. Way more. Which exactly describes my experience with the recent Dirty Girl Mud Run. Sure, I had read books on obstacle races and talked to others who had done them, but there’s nothing like going out there and just doing it to really get a feel for something. And feel I did. Here are my top 10 mud run tips—the stuff you wouldn’t know to bring or do, the secrets you need to know before doing a mud run!
My 10 Mud Run Tips
1. Bring your own water. I know all mud runs and obstacle courses are different, but just in case: bring plenty of your own water for before and after the race. I was certain my mud run would have copious amounts of free water available before the race, but they didn’t—only on the course. Don’t make my mistake, especially if it’s a hot day!
2. Bring a pair of cheap sunglasses or a visor to wear. We were out on a course in full sun and spent the whole time squinting. Yes, you’ll get your sunglasses or hat totally muddy—or it’ll fall off at some point. But if you have an old pair of shades or a cheap visor, bring it. Your peepers will thank you.
3. Think of it less as a “race” and more as an “event.” Again, this depends entirely on the type of race that you’re doing, but this is usually different from a typical 5K or marathon where you might be trying to PR. Race courses usually change from year to year, and it’s not really about “going fast.” It’s more about having fun with your team (do get a team together and dress up!) and the other mud-run participants. In fact, our race didn’t even have a chip to track time. So be nice, help others and cheer everyone on. (Do NOT splash others in the mud pit—we had one chick do this during our race, and it was uber rude!) It’s all about teamwork and having a good time.
4. Pack a bag—and have time to check it. You’ll definitely need a big bag to hold sunscreen (get it on before you go into the race area!), snacks, a change of clothes and shoes, your ID and some money, a towel and trash bags. Get there early (at least an hour) to have plenty of time to check it and pick up your registration, too. Oh, and if you can, also “pack” a loved one to carry your camera or phone and take photos. Your hands will be too muddy to capture the experience fully, but you’ll want photos—believe me!
5. Schedule your heat according to the time of year. Most mud runs have starts all throughout the day. But don’t just pick what time is most convenient for you—pick your time based on the weather and what temperature you like to run in. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the earlier heats have “cleaner” mud and more grass to run through than the later ones. Good or bad, depending on what you’re going for.
6. Plan on donating your shoes. Yes, you could spray yourself and your shoes down afterwards and try to salvage them (in fact, my pair of shorts came out pretty clean after a rinse down at the race and a heavy wash cycle at home), but why not just forgo the trouble and give them to someone in need instead? Like the Dirty Girl Mud Run, most mud runs have a place where you can donate your shoes (they clean them!).
7. Wear undies, but not white ones. Here’s a fun one: You want to wear undies because if you do decide to change onsite (our race had a big tent for just race participants to hose down and change), you probably don’t want to do so totally buck-naked. And you do want to wear a pair that you’re okay with just tossing after—they get SUPER gross—but don’t wear white ones. I did this, and well, you know what happens when you wear white…
8. Bring extra trash bags. In fact, just go ahead and bring a whole roll. You’ll want them for your clothes, your car—and you’ll be the hero when another team forgets theirs.
9. Train for it. Even the most fun of mud runs have serious obstacles—rope nets, climbing, tunnels, slides, walls. Take the race seriously and train for it for at least a couple months before, with running, strength training and plenty of functional training (push-ups, pull-ups, bear crawls, etc.). And if you feel like anything during the run is far too hard or outside of what your body can realistically do, always, always listen to your body. There’s no shame in walking around an obstacle when you need to.
10. Celebrate with a drink after! The celebration is the best part! So schedule time with your team to toast to your accomplishments after the mud run. My team stuck around for a drink on the mud-run grounds, and then hit up a local bar and grill for a drink and lunch. Cheers to us!
Have you done a mud run? If, yes, what tips would you add? If no, whatcha waiting for? They’re super fun! —Jenn